The Nelson Family Reunion
Based on an idea by Scott McIntyre
"Damn and blast it, Edith!!" Admiral Harriman Nelson raged into his apartment’s videophone, "I don’t need any twitterpated vacation!"
With a controlled patience honed by years of enduring the famous Nelson temper, the 30-ish spinster simply waited, meek, child-like; for him to finish.
"Oh very well, you win," she’s only looking out for me, he thought wearily. "I’ll be on the next flight out."
"That will be lovely, Harry dear." Works every time. "Now, do remember, that while I’ve managed to find these remote cousins, they are relations, nonetheless."
"Just how did you find these cousins anyway? I thought we two were the last of the line."
"I thought so too, dad always said so; but then I found that Shamus O’Hara Nelson…what is it Harry? You look ill."
"I’m fine, go on…"
"Well, I was doing a little research in the genealogy section, and lo and behold I found a link…rather exciting…it seems, and this is a titillating tidbit, that our noble ancestor had…dalliances."
"You don’t say," Harriman replied with just a hint of sarcasm.
"Harry, are you sure you’re all right? You seem…uninterested…surely you of all people know our prestige, wealth, our position in life ,came from our illustrious Captain Nelson. A pillar of the community, and you don’t find it the least bit surprising that he…well…that he…"
"I get the picture, Edith. But usually the children of such events were given the mother’s surname. How did they end up as Nelsons?"
"He and his shipmates bragged about his virility, and used they used the name sarcastically toward the children, I guess it stuck… then…he forgot all about them, and their poor mothers. He had 18 children besides Harriman, the 9th, his only legitimate son. You know Harry, you’re the 11th, no, 13th of that name since way back in…oh, blast, I forgot the year."
"Edith, you really must watch your language. What would society say?" he winked.
"Having you as a big brother has made me immune to anything they could possibly even snub their collective noses at!"
Both brother and sister laughed, as Harriman realized that his sweet unmarried sister was really a brave soul to take on Boston society. Oh she may give the image of a demure 'old maid', as the gossip columns had referred to her on numerous occasions, but she had a will of iron underneath. And the Boston Busybodies, as she’d dubbed them, knew it.
"Well, Edith, I’ll be sure to put on my best behavior."
"Harry…Thank you. This means a lot to me. And it really will do you good."
"That’s what I’m afraid of!" he grinned as he indicated for them to sign off, " see you soon, bye Edith."
He hated economizing. Harriman had often economized at his Institute, but these blasted new passenger aircraft’s had done away with first class accommodations and quite frankly he was squished between two other passengers and he didn’t like it. Not a snob by any means, he had, however, become accustomed to the softer things in his private life, when he was away from Seaview. Like more leg room, and smoking whenever he damn well felt like it. This was going to be a long flight. At least he had a direct-non-stop flight. Still, the flight was 'slow as molasses'. If he hadn’t been a man of principle he’d of taken the flying sub and been at Edith’s already!
He wondered if she’d house him at the dusty old family mansion, or in her spartan apartment. Born to wealth, she refused to flaunt it, much, anyway, and her many charities were gaining national attention. She’d already been on two talk shows, and was more than a bit mift afterwards, as the hosts kept going to her big brother’s fame and notariety, instead of keeping to the subjects of Aid’s research , global famine, unwanted children and the like. Harry grimaced at that. Growing up, both of them had felt a bit unwanted. Their father was all business, their mother, a socialite. Provided for, but rather ignored. Then with the untimely deaths of their parents, Harriman had been appointed guardian of his sister, a decade and a half younger. He’d had to send her away to boarding schools but he didn’t like having to, and made sure she knew it, spending what time he could with her during his limited shore leaves.
She hadn’t turned out badly. She was cheerful, bright, and a delight to be with, when she wasn’t in one of her pouty moods. But she had missed out on marriage. The few beau’s she’d had had turned out to be nothing more than gigolos. It had soured her about marriage in general, and had resigned herself to a life of maidenhood, and loneliness. She had no companions but her two Himalayan cats and miniature longhaired dachshund. Oh, she could spout off about how ‘happy’ she was, but Harry knew. He was lonely too, when he was all alone, and unloved by anyone 'special'.
Oh he had friends, good friends, most aboard Seaview, off on a charting mission in the North Atlantic, but it wasn't the same as having a 'snuggle bunny' of your own, as a TV commentator had termed the relationship of a man and woman in love.
"Oh, I’m so excited! Just think! The whole family together!" Edith escorted Lt. Col. Tony Nelson upstairs to the ‘blue’ wing of the old mansion. "I’ve hired some help from the agency, didn’t they do a good job cleaning up the place. You should have seen the dust! Here we are. Meg can unpack for you."
"No! I mean, thank you but I’ll take care of it, used to doing things the NASA way."
"Of course, excuse me, I must remember. You know, Harry likes doing things himself too…I must say I’m glad you’re not in the Army!" she grinned. "Oh, there’s the bell, another new arrival!" she exclaimed and hurried down the heavily inlaid stairs to greet yet another Nelson from the recently unearthed family tree.
"Oh," an elegant and voluptuous woman appeared in a puff of purple smoke, as Tony removed the cork, "I thought she’d never leave!"
"Just you behave yourself. Edith Nelson is an important person, and a distant cousin. It was very nice of her to have invited me."
"Where should I hide my bottle?" Jeanie the genie asked. She'd been found by Tony Nelson after the astronaut had crashed on a lonely beach, and popped open the odd looking bottle in which she'd been trapped for centuries. Tony Nelson was a good master. Kind, tender-hearted, and if truth be told, a bit in love with her, though he'd never admitted it.
"Someplace safe," he replied, " here, in this drawer, just in case her maid decides to tidy up," he pulled open an obviously unused dresser drawer, and tossed the bottle into it with socks and briefs to cover, in a very non-regulation manner. "The messier it looks, the safer."
"You act as though somebody would try to steal me away and become my new master."
"Jeanie, this is Massachusetts, home of witch burning, so no tempting fate with appearing and disappearing and zapping this and that!"
"They don’t do that now, witch burning, do they?" She asked, somber, deeply concerned.
"No, but I bet they’d like to get their hands on you! Remember, this Harriman Nelson is a scientist…nothing like a little dissection to discover what makes you tick!"
"Ohhh. He sounds horrible….Master, can I take a peek at him?"
"He’s not here yet. Probably not for another hour or two. A lot depends on the weather and the flight."
"Oh, I'm too old for this," Mike Nelson grumbled, casting a weary glance at the ornate staircase, while the hired help lugged his suitcase upstairs.
"Nonsense," Edith patted his arm, " it's just been a long flight, I'm sure…we do have an lift. Harry uses it, but I can't abide the blasted buggers, not since I got trapped in an elevator at school… oh we're going to have so much fun! To think that you were into sea exploration before Seaview was even launched! Harry'll love talking to you about it all, and about your boat too, 'Argonaut' wasn't it?"
"I'm just an old diver who got into a lot of trouble now and then, that's all…yes, she was a great little boat…but not a sub…oh, if I'd only had one of them…."
"Well, Harry's had his nose underwater since he was a baby, so you'll have tons to talk about! There now, here it is, all dusted out and vacuumed, your own private elevator…just take the door to the left on the second floor. I've put you in the green room."
Only another hour and Nelson could relax in the comfort of Edith's presence. He was sure she'd have a blazing fire in the fireplace at whichever home she placed him, and a sherry waiting in one of grandma's cut crystal goblets, one of the few antiques left intact from 'the old country'. The comforting images were suddenly cut off by a strange 'poof' sound. Snooze over, he absently pulled for a cigarette, only remembering not to light it when a steward shook his head 'no'.
"I'm sorry Admiral Nelson, perhaps you'd care for some chewing gum?" the steward asked helpfully.
"No, no thank you…"he sighed, and tried to envision the cousins Edith had mentioned, but all he could picture were images of money grubbers out for a free ride when Edith had contacted them.
"You're Harriman Nelson?" the pretty blonde woman in the pink pantsuit asked as she sat down in the empty chair next to him.
"Yes, not that I mind but I think that seat is occupied."
"Oh, I'll only be a moment…you dissect things don't you?"
"On occasion…but usually only when they're already dead. I never went in for live frog dissection at school, and don't now, if that's what you mean."
"Oh, I'm so relieved…but you do have an inquisitive mind?"
"Rather…see here, my dear, are you a reporter? If so, I gave at the office…" he grinned.
Jeannie smiled back, finding the 'Horrible Harriman' not at all like the person she'd imagined. Tony would be so pleased to finally meet the great man. And if truth be told, she was pleased to have made his acquaintance too. There was something about him that made her forget all about the tingles she got on occasions when thinking about Master Tony.
Nelson glanced into the window, while his neighbor slept on, heard the strange 'poof' again, ignored it, and turned his attention back to the lovely girl, but she was gone, replaced by the chair's former occupant, happily snoring .
"I'm so happy to meet you Mrs. Nelson," Edith greeted the venerable dowager she'd found from the genealogy link.
In her late 90's, Harriet Nelson, widow of Ozzie Nelson, was more than happy to meet some remote relations from her husband's family line. There had been a great void in her life when Ozzie had died, and Dr. David Nelson, psychiatrist, and Mr. Ricky Nelson, Hollywood agent, had led busy lives away for some years now. Oh, they visited now and then, looked out for her welfare, but it wasn't the same…they'd been invited too, but notes of regret had been sent on their behalf instead. She doubted they'd even been interested. Give your sons a good life, bring them up to be outstanding citizens without any police record or even a driving ticket, and what did she get…two long distance sons far more interested in making money than settling down. Oh, the pain of it….
"Is everything okay?" Edith asked, a bit louder, as she noticed the elder Nelson staring off from her perch on the window seat.
"Oh, yes, my dear, please don't mind me…my mind wanders a bit now and then…wonderful view up here."
"Yes, my grandmother loved it…this was her room, complete with widow's walk…oh, excuse me, I didn't mean…"
"Oh, I know all about New England architecture, my dear…waiting for their seafaring men to come home, the women paced about their balconies overlooking the shore…and gave a name to a building term!" she grinned. "You mustn't mind me dear…I've grown accustomed to the loss of my dear husband for some time now, though…the pain never really goes away, does it? Now, then…tell me…how did you manage to find us all?"
Harriman Nelson took his time at the gate. He told himself that he was tired, but he wasn’t. He was on a mission. He paused a bit as he watched his fellow passengers scramble from the plane until only the crew departed.
"Need any help sir?" a stewardess asked.
"Uh, no. Tell me…the little girl…woman… in the pink pantsuit…did she leave already? I thought I was one of the first ones out?"
"Pink pantsuit? I'm sorry, I don't remember anyone like that aboard. Perhaps one of the others know. Good day, sir."
Nelson sighed with regret. Too late. She must have jumped off the plane and swept away by her boyfriend, husband, or lover, as soon as the doors opened. Why hadn't he roamed the plane to find her? Why hadn't he asked her out to lunch or to the bar or something? She was a pain in the neck with all those ridiculous questions, but she was refreshingly beautiful, just the same.
Tony Nelson was exhausted. He stretched out on the bed and closed his eyes. A deep jiggle on the end of the bed made him ask, eyes still closed," Jeanie, what are you up to now?"
"What do you think laddie? And don't call me Jeanie!" The male voice replied.
"Aghhhh!" Tony rose quickly, " Sir! Admiral Nelson, I'm sorry, your sister put me in this room…"
The Nelson apparition vanished while it's laughter permeated the room and then faded away.
"Oh, what a dream!" Tony ran a hand through his hair…as if the great Admiral would sneak up on him, use an Irish brogue, and laugh so…so…evil-like….
Edith had arranged a limo for her brother, so he sat back to enjoy the scenery. He'd never had much time or inclination to before, when he was rushing from one government secret assignment to another, or deeply engrossed in one of his own pet projects that he'd designed his personal submarine Seaview for. New England was in the middle of Autumn. Vibrant colors flashed by as the limo soon left the bustling city and made headway along a lonely stretch of a rural road.
The old coot Shamus had made a fortune since his arrival in the States with his grandparents all those centuries ago. A pillar of the community, everyone thought. But Harriman alone knew better. And the idea that the Nelson loot was ill gained from the slave trade often made him out of sorts, and more determined than ever to use the family wealth wisely and for the benefit of mankind.
"Would you now?" the apparition appeared opposite him, his legs outstretched, grabbing the limousine's cut crystal decanter, and taking a swig of the amber contents.
"Oh, not you again…why can't you just leave me alone?" Harriman asked wearily.
"What was that sir?" the driver asked through the partially open sliding windows between the limo's separated compartments.
"Uh, oh…I said, quite a nice view isn't' it?"
"Yes, sir. Nothing like it anywhere."
"Bahh!" Shamus O'Hara Nelson belched. "View is it? I'll give you a view! Of my ship! My wenches! My gold! That's a fair sight for a sailor like ye, me lad! Me offer still stands!"
"Shut up!" Harriman had the good sense to cover his mouth and cough in disguise, closing the partition completely, hoping the driver wouldn't think his passenger insane.
"Nah, what does it matter if he thinks ye be a loony?"
"Shamus, since when did you take to reading minds?"
"We be kin, like it or no, and I know how you think, me laddie. Now then, why this family reunion I'd like to know…I don't know all these folks from Adam…after my money are they? Blast your adlepated sibling!"
"Stop it!" Nelson shouted, forgetting his handkerchief, "I..uh…want to step out for a moment." He covered for the benefit of his driver.
"Yes. Sir. Lovely site isn't it?" the driver dutifully stopped the car and opened Harriman's door, but stepped aside cautiously. This passenger was a bit odd, gabbing to himself and waving his hands about. He'd been told his passenger was a rich eccentric, but it wouldn’t do to put himself at too much risk.
Harriman escaped into the brisk air, pretending to examine the leaves a particularly ugly plant. He would have meandered further into the wood, to say a few choice words to his ancestor but Shamus had vaporized and Nelson chided himself for saying anything, at least out loud. He really would have to be careful. But then, these Massachusetts folks were used to eccentricities, and his money was a sort of shield against any downright slander against him. He snipped off a piece of plant, and the limo was soon on its way again. Quietly this time, for the ghost had not reappeared.
"Oh, Harry! It's so good to see you," Edith embraced her big brother, who gave her a little peck on the cheek.
"You are a sight for sore eyes!"
"You like it?" she twirled around in her new dress. It was aquamarine, with little cartoon bugs on it.
"It's lovely," he lied. Edith had no fashion sense at all, despite her many visits to New York. The dress looked like a child had drawn the bugs on her dress. "Uh, forgive me for asking, but.." he held out a portion of the dress with the design in his hand.
"Bumblebees! Are they adorable?"
"You're lying…no need to spare my feelings…it was a charity auction. This is an original Child-Help gown, designed by the children themselves. When I changed right into the dress after I bought it, you should have seen their dear little faces! And actually, it's so ugly I decided right then I'd treasure it! Come along Harry dear, you have family to meet."
"Couldn't I shower and change first?"
"Oh, of course, you must be exhausted…you're in the master suite."
"I know, I know it gives you the creeps. It gives everyone the creeps, but Harry dear, you are the head of the household…just ignore the cobwebs."
"Cobwebs? Hardly, you've probably had the entire domestic agency working all week!"
"See you as soon as you're ready. We're in the family room," she gave him a kiss and sent him on his way.
"Well, what are you waiting for! Change course and get yourself to Boston!" The deep voice boomed in Commander Lee Crane's ear. This was too much. If Chip Morton played one more practical joke on him, he'd soon regret it!
"Chip, that's not funny!" Lee turned to the voice in the observation nose, expecting to see his Exec with a silly grin on his face. "You're not Morton!" he exclaimed.
"Nay, it's not funny and I am not your first mate!"
"Master at arms!" Crane spoke loudly to the confused crewmen, most of whom groaned inwardly. The captain was talking to himself again.
"Are you through playing games or are you ready to make battle plans?" The one armed man clothed in the centuries old naval costume roared.
"Who are you?"
"Name's Nelson. Now, we must hurry. We must be in Boston by noon on the fourteenth or it will be too late. Hurry, man, order full about."
"I'm not going to do anything until you tell me what this is all about."
"Ahh. Cautious. Harriman chose well, even if you are an American," the voice's owner fingered Lee's collar insignia pips.
"Now, look, whoever you are…"
"My name's Horatio. I'm a…relation of Harriman's. Trust me. He's in grave danger."
"What do you mean?!" Lee grabbed his arms and fell to the floor right through them. Slowly getting up, assisted by a concerned Kowalski, Crane saw his beloved bow windows through the..the…apparition.
"Sorry," the apparition continued," I should have warned you…nay, don't be wary of me, boy. I am what you believe me to be, a…spectre, ghost, if you will. You've had experience with spectres before I'm told. I 'm here to help Harriman, but I can't do it alone. He'll need you to set him straight…he needs your advice."
"He also ignores it half the time…what is this all about…wait…Horatio?…not THE Horatio…of Trafalgar? Lord Nelson? Of the British Navy?"
"I thought he died childless."
"Not so. I had a daughter, Horatia, though not by my legal wife. In any case, I'm not Harriman's ancestor. I'm an ancestral cousin. How can I prove myself and that I'm in earnest? Ah, yes. Harriman's middle name is Horatio in honor of me. His mother must have been daft! Poor lad, two horrendous names…. In spite of them, he did rather well in life, the Navy. He was so disciplined for a time, it gave me shudders…and though he softened up a bit in time, he still gave you a right royal dressing down for sneaking that dancer-wrong term that-ah, yes, she was an exotic dancer- a stripper your men called her, aboard the, what was the craft's name now, oh, yes, the Nautilus…you were only trying to cheer up the men, but Harriman bellowed like a stuck pig! Your men thought it was great fun! So did you, my boy!!… Now, will you help me?? It's a matter of life and death, my boy, trust me, for Harriman's sake?"
"What do we have to do?"
"Oh, man," Kowalski rubbed his sore eyes. He'd put in an extra watch at sonar as the sub's assigned mission was scrapped and was now plowing through the cold Atlantic waters at flank speed. The skipper had ordered it, and it was a matter of boat-wide pride that they, the crew, trusted him enough to obey him, despite his talking to himself again, and motioning his hands to thin air…'one day', Ski thought, he was going to write a book…another weird cruise.
"Not another damn ghost!" Chip paced in the captain's cabin. "Lee…"
"I know, I know, but it's the truth Chip, will you trust me?"
"As always," Morton sat down on the edge of Lee's bunk. "Tell me though, this…Horatio…he's the actual one, not a crafty ruse by Kreuger or something?"
Lee groaned at the mention of the ghost of Capt. Gerhart Kreuger. " Believe me, Chip, he's not Kreuger. I could tell that right away…being possessed by that Teutonic tyrant made me rather sensitive to an evil atmosphere. This ghost doesn't have a drop of evil in him…except for a seduction or two," he smirked, thinking of Lord Nelson's affair with Lady Hamilton, politely washed over in the history books.
"Okay, but if he's such a good 'joe', why does he haunt?"
"Haunting?? Haunting!?" Horatio bellowed," I come here to do your admiral a kindness and…"
"Calm down!" Lee ordered.
"He's here? Now?" Chip asked.
"Just now, sitting on the edge of the desk…uh, Lord Nelson, Executive Officer Lt. Commander Chip Morton."
"Your servant sir, " Horatio doffed his feathered tricorner hat in a half bow.
"He just said hello," Lee explained.
"Uh, likewise," Chip gave a little nod to the vacant air…" Lee…how come only you can him?"
Crane turned toward Horatio, "Well? Can't you let him, can't you let the whole crew, see you? It would help the unease aboard."
"What do you think I've been trying to do??! You're the only one who can, I don't know why! You yanks are a foreign species!"
"Sorry…I didn't mean to get you upset….seems he's been trying to, Chip…but so far…"
"Must be your..magnetic personality," Chip grinned, " okay, so what's this all about."
The family room in the old Nelson mansion was a misnomer. It was more like a museum's gallery. With polished wood floors, oversized paintings, and monstrosities of Victorian deco sculpture. The huge room had dark wood paneling which added to the gloom of the yellowed garish wallpaper. It's only redeeming quality was a blazing fire in an equally garish stone fireplace.
"Good evening," Harriman Nelson entered the room. "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. Edith tells me the 'gang's all here', so lets get right down to it. This little gathering's been planned as a way to meet each other…since we all seem to be related… to Captain Nelson I gather….one way or another."
"Or another, I'm afraid , Mike Nelson, sir…from one of the good captain's…uh…friends…Deborah we think."
"Mike Nelson…ah yes. The noted diver! You were on the 'Argonaut'…I've always admired your courage. You helped recreational diving get a foothold into the public domain, and if I'm not mistaken, you were cited for bravery in the rescue of numerous persons…solved a few crimes too, I think!"
"Only doing my job Admiral."
"You sound like my captain! You'll have to tell me about all your adventures!" he chuckled and moved on to the next relation.
"I'm from the line of Sarah…Tony Nelson, Admiral..."
"I've watched your career with interest Colonel, I had no idea we were related! Perhaps you'd enjoy a flight on Seaview's flying sub sometime."
"I'd be honored sir."
"Now who's this delightful creature," he bent down to kiss Harriet on the cheek.
"My late husband Ozzie's from an unknown girl…lost in time, poor dear."
"History's loss…now, " Harriman stood up straight and looked over his relations. "I think we'd better get one thing straight right now….I'm Harriman, not sir, and definitely not admiral…we're family. Understood? Now, what's for supper?" he rubbed his hands and escorted the group to the dining room and the fast food fried chicken and Chinese take out.
"So, that's the old man himself," Mike Nelson asked, munching an after dinner mint, as he looked at the oil painting of Shamus O'Hara Nelson in the drawing room." Must have been a hard taskmaster by the looks of that pistol in his belt."
"Well, we think it's him," Edith answered, " by the process of elimination…he was the only merchantman captain in the family…that we know of…I only found this portrait when we were cleaning out the attic…so lifelike, it so startled one of the maids that she ran from the attic screaming. She swore it moaned and leered at her…poor girl…it was only some air in the water pipes!"
"Quite a resemblance to Ad..sorry, Harriman…tell me, why on earth did your parents plague your brother with a name like that?"
"Ahh, that's what I'd like to know!" Harriman intervened, joining them. "I spent my entire youth defending myself from bullying schoolmates!"
"Made you a fighter, no doubt," Harriet said, wheeled in by Tony.
"He could be your double," Tony mused, examined the painting. Good grief, it looked like the man in his dream, antique clothing and all…or had it been a dream?
"Only in appearance, God willing," Harriman replied…" lets just say, he wasn't all he appeared to be…"
"Harry, did you find something in the archives?" Edith asked excitedly, " We found a bunch of old things tucked away in the attic and sent them off to the historical society…I've only had a chance to see a few of them…Harry said some appeared to be ship's logs…ooohh, skeletons in the closet no doubt…"
Oh, Edie, if you only knew…, Harriman thought ruefully. She must never know, none of them must ever know. Their noble ancestor was a …slaver. Doomed to wander the earth as a ghost unless a blood relation took his place. Fat chance!
"You're sure of that are ye?" Shamus winked from his perch above the portrait's frame.
"Harry, are you ill?" Edith asked, concerned.
"No, no, it was a long flight that's all…if you'll all excuse me, I'm rather tired…goodnight."
"Don’t let the bedbugs bite!" she waved him of cheerily.
"Or the ghosts!" Tony tried a little bravado.
"Could the house be haunted at all?" Harriet asked, as Harriman dissapeared from sight." Perfect setting for it…."
" Not to my knowledge…my grandmother held a séance once, but nothing happened . She was convinced there was something lurking in the house, all because her cat refused to enter the master suite…but nothing ever happened and nobody ever saw anything. Speaking of cats, I'd like to introduce you to mine, they don't get to come here often. They've been having a great time shredding the old velvet drapes in the breakfast nook…."
"Lee, you can't be serious…" Chip put hand on Lee's arm.
"Trust me. It's the only way…"
"It's your funeral…sorry…I just hope the men don't put you in a straight-jacket."
"Now or never…make the announcement."
Morton picked up the mike, " Attention all hands…the crew will come to attention. The captain wishes to address us all, " he handed Lee the mike, " here you are."
"I don't know quite how to say this, men, but its' vital that you take it on trust…Admiral Nelson is in danger. With the flying sub out of commission, we have to race to Massachusetts…radio messages won't work, because, and you're going to find this hard to believe, but we've been boarded by…Horatio Nelson…or that is, the ghost of Horatio Nelson….He assures me that the admiral is in a desperate situation and that only I…we…can help…his presence aboard has wiped out all radio communication, we don't know why. We could surface and signal a tanker to relay a message, but we're needed in person…now, I know some of you may be ready to put me in confinement, but most of you know that ghosts are real, you remember Kreuger…but this ghost is trying to help…what I want to know, is, will you stand with me? For Admiral Nelson? Our Admiral Nelson, that is…I'll be in my cabin for anyone who'd rather not be a part of this..mission…you can be transferred to that tanker topside, waiting for our reply… you have 20 minutes…that is all."
Harriman sighed as he pulled off the sweater and unbuttoned his shirt…what was Shamus after? His soul? That was apparent…No, there was something else….
"All right, out with it," Harriman decided to take the bull by the horns. " Why are you here, what do you want?" he asked the vacant air.
"Laddie, laddie, I want you to take me place, that's all, to release me from me prison of wandering the seas all lost and alone…surely you haven't forgotten."
"There you are…do you have any idea that my guests would have thought me crazy if I hadn't control enough to keep from speaking to you in their sight?"
"Ach, their me kinsmen too, laddie, boy…besides, I think they'd like the idea….indeed haunted mansion…yes, I like the idea…"
"You keep your dirty hands off of them!"
"I'm not of flesh and blood, Harry lad, and me ship's a far site from shore…little harm I could or would do to them, physically…it's you I need…me true born Nelson through me true born line of offspring."
"True born?! Hah! All innocent children are true born! It's their parents who may be bastards!"
"Ohh, ye have the Nelson temper, still, do ye…well, I give ye something to think on, then, yer not the last of the line ye know…though I would have preferred someone of the proper gender at me ship's helm."
"You wouldn’t dare!!"
"Ah, laddie, I would I would…and methinks I'll just meander over to yon sister's room, and propose, ah yes, what a lass dreams of, a…journey into adventure…"
"No, you wait…I'll give ye till the 14th.. say..noon to decide, if not, ye'd better make plans to face all of them on Judgement Day! Think on it, I can make their lives, difficult, if not painfully woeful until then…I do have friends in…low places," he laughed. The brutal, evil laugh echoed through the room.
The 20 minutes were up. 30 more followed…then after a full hour had gone by, Lee looked up from his charts on his desk and grinned. Not one man had asked to be removed from Seaview. He contacted the tanker, thanked them for waiting, and picked up the mike.
"Very well, we're all in this together. Thank you all. Let's go rescue the admiral."
He could hear the cheers throughout the craft, and dragged a hand through his hair.
"You have a fine crew, captain, "Horatio appeared, "would that I have had such as they." Horatio sat on the edge of Crane's desk. " Tell me, though, methinks by now you'd be an admiral yourself…"
"We don't start midshipmen off as children any more, now they have to be least 17," he grinned, remembering that Horatio had been sent to sea at the ripe old age of 12.
"No wonder you and your officers are so old for the rank…I was a captain at 20! Tis a strange century you're in."
"We like it," Lee rose and offered the great man his seat, " would you like some coffee?"
"Boy, don't waste your exotic brew for me…"
"Coffee's become as common as houseflies, here sir, it's really rather good…I think Cookie-that's our cook, puts something in it…"
"I thank you sir, but t'wod to no good…and splatter your fine furniture here."
"I'm sorry, I hadn't thought about that…tell me, though, I sense no evil in you, so why are you doomed to wander the earth instead of an eternal rest topside, so to speak?"
"Ah, not doomed, my boy, Its' just the injustice of it all…I have a few things I need to set straight first…and was granted permission to do so…nay, lad, I can tell you no more."
"All right, I won't ask you about Heaven or Hell, but you can't even tell me how Nelson, I mean the admiral…Harriman, is in trouble?"
" Again, all I can tell ye, is that you must be there before noon of the 14th."
"But what am I supposed to do?"
"Be there. The rest will be revealed then. That's all."
"It's rather cold in here, isn't it Master?" Jeanie blinked and the heavy bedclothes of the massive four poster rolled back.
"I hadn't noticed…Jeanie..?
"Do you believe in ghosts?"
"Why do you ask?…what is it?"
"It's just that…never mind…silly dream, that's all."
"Well don't have any more…sweet dreams master."
"Good night Jeanie."
She dissolved into a plume of pink smoke, and pretended to settle into her bottle for the night.
Mike Nelson settled into his ornate bed, and hoped the bedbug joke was just that…he'd spent some time overseas in his private business dealings decades ago, and the old European beds he's managed to catch a few winks on did indeed have the little biting bugs from whence the name had come. These huge beds looked every bit as uninviting as they had become to him.
"Do they now!" a voice boomed.
"I think ye already know me." Shamus appeared, one foot on the antique steps designed just for these huge beds.
"Aye, you know me…from me picture…Captain Shamus O'Hara Nelson, and I'll thank ye to keep any more of yer comments about me pistol to yerself. Why no skipper worth his salt would wander his ship without a way to maintain order!"
"This is impossible…you're not real. I'm Imagining things…"
"No, you be not imagining things! And I'll thank ye to keep yer thoughts to yeself about me bed! Why, yer line was conceived in it, if ye be really come from the lassie ye claim."
"Oh, get a hold of yourself Mike," Mike Nelson said verbally to himself, " you're fantasizing again…had to have been the pain medication…they told you there could be side effects…."
"Ach, I'm no fancy! Now, listen here…Harriman knows all about me, but is ashamed of me…he's a snob. "
"He is not!" Jeannie said, appearing in poof of purple smoke.
"Aghh! " Shamus exclaimed, "What be ye then?? A watchdog from On High?"
"I'm Jeanie, and I don't like you saying unkind things about Admiral Nelson."
"Are ye from On High or not?" Shamus asked, about to take out his snuff box, suddenly remembering it was long gone, left aboard Seaview when he'd first appeared to Nelson.
"I am a genie, who or what are you? Master Tony said nothing of you, and you weren't at dinner."
"Wait a minute…" Mike wearily sat down…" You, " he said to Shamus, " you are a ghost…and you," he indicated Jeanie, " are a genie, and Tony Nelson is your master." It was not a question..
Both 'apparitions' nodded in the affirmative.
"Oh, I've got to see a psychiatrist…"Mike groaned.
"Well, now, " Shamus walked around Jeanie, giving her an appraisal of long practice, " a genie…as in three wishes? Soooo….does that apply to non-mortals? And how did this 'Tony master' rate the term?"
"I take it you're deceased," Jeanie replied, " and how To…how Master Tony became my master is my business, not yours, especially if you're dead."
"If it concerns a Nelson it concerns me! Be I dead or not!"
"What do you want?" Mike asked, as he poured himself a glass of water from the bedside table.
"Ahhhh, that's for me to know and only for those I choose to tell!" Shamus disappeared.
"The old Sour-pus," Jeanie said just loud enough to be heard as she too, vanished.
"Good morning, Edith you've outdone yourself." Harriman scanned the sideboard, complete with a small assortment of wrapped and packaged food products from several local fast food establishments, and ceramic bowls heaped with fresh strawberries and cantaloupe spheres. "Don't you believe in home cooking?"
"Not the way I cook! Besides, I knew you'd appreciate it, fresh fruit, heavy fat, cholesterol, and best of all…" she paused.
"No dishes!" both laughed.
"Ahhh, the indulgences of home!" Harriman sighed. Despite the master suite, he had not been plagued by the hairy spiders that no fumigation company could get rid of, not to mention the dancing skeletons his great aunt had insisted she'd seen so many years before…Even Shamus hadn't even interrupted his sleep in the dark, spooky place.
"Where is everyone?" Harriman asked.
"Well, Harriet is in the library, Tony has gone for a walk, and Mike keeps mumbling something about never having a psychiatrist when he needs one…"
"Skipper, are you busy?" Chief Sharkey asked, entering the Seaview's small library.
"No, not really…just checking up on a few things…what's on your mind," he turned from the microfilm reader.
"The crew's been wondering…"
"I know, I know, but I can't get the old goblin to tell me anything more! It's frustrating. And if this is some sort of delusion, I'll really be in for it!"
"What are you trying to find out?"
"Well, if you must know, I'm trying to find out a little more about our guest and perhaps just how to get rid of him, in an emergency that is! Just in case this Horatio isn't exactly who or what he appears to be!"
"Laddie, I'm crushed, so I am!" the voice pouted.
"Skipper?" Sharkey asked of the suddenly quiet Crane.
"Shhhh. He's back….well?" Crane asked of the spectre, which sat on the console's edge, looking curiously at the microfilm reader.
"What nonsense is this?" he pulled the film out from the roller to look at it.
"Microfilm…like a book…"
"A book?? This oilskin strip is a book??"
"Uh, " Sharkey decided to intervene, though it was difficult talking to thin air, though he did see the reel of microfilm suspended in the middle of the air. " Yeah. You see, space is a premium on a sub…so we can put lots and lots of books on just one little reel…"
"Ahh, so, Captain…just what are you so anxious to find out? How to get rid of me?? are you beginning to doubt me?"
"It's my job to doubt you Admiral…"
"Yes, yes….well…now…about our mission, can the chief here be trusted?"
"Every man aboard can be trusted!" Lee exclaimed, becoming angry.
"I meant no offense," he bowed to Sharkey, who seemed to be upset that the skipper was upset and apparently with cause.
"He says he's sorry, chief…Oh boy, I could use some of the Admiral's rum," Crane dragged a hand through his hair.
"Rum!!! Rum!?" Lord Nelson groaned, surprized, "Oh, don't plague me with the thought…they pickled me in it you know, to preserve my mortal remains on my way home....took swig's of it too, as it splashed about my poor done in body…called it 'tapping the admiral', but… I thought you modern yanks didn't allow spirits aboard!".
"You're here aren't you?" Lee asked with a wink, his humor returned, " Now, Lord Nelson, Are you finally going to let us in on this?"
"No. Not yet…but I would advise you to be prepared to welcome or repel another boarder, a lot depends on your mood."
Crane stood, " Boarders? What boarders?"
"Another Nelson relation?"
"I can tell you no more!" Lord Nelson vanished.
"Wait!!" Lee called out…to no avail. "Chief, I don't know what we're going to be faced with, but better have everyone on the ready for another…visitor."
"So, Mike, " Harriman asked, " your job as a private contractor kept you out of the armed forces? I thought you would have made a good fighting man."
"Yes, though I did make some training films for the Navy that they found most helpful…" Mike answered, a bit unnerved by the feeling that this was a sort of inquisition by Harriman. It was just that he hadn't gotten a good night sleep either, with his very disjointed night of mental delusions. "Admiral…sorry, Harriman, this old mansion, it's not…haunted by any chance is it?"
"Why what's the matter? Did you see a Ghost?" Edith asked, excited.
"No, no, not at all..just curious that's all. You should have seen one of my dreams though, what a knockout…"
"Well," Edith buttoned her sweater, " if you gentlemen are going to talk shop, I'm going for a walk."
"Be careful Edie, that heavy rainfall made things pretty slippery…"
"Brother dear, you forget that I'm a grown woman…Harriet, keep them on the straight and narrow, I'll be back soon."
"I, uh, actually I had a dream too," Tony Nelson added, " only mine was of Captain Nelson… He sat on my bed and told me not to call him Jeanie."
"Oh, is that the name of your girlfriend?" Harriet asked.
"Uh, not exactly…I …must have been thinking about her and all…."
It was chilly, and Edith tucked the woolen scarf around her neck tighter as she walked along the grounds…you couldn't really hear the sea for all the traffic and it was not exactly seaside property. There were two acres of land surrounding the mansion. Not much as the snobs constantly reminded her, but she'd hired a gardener, and the overgrown mass of weeds was quickly being replaced with tilled earth, sod placements, and flowers…
"Flowers?!! Bah!" the voice mocked her.
"Who's there? Simmons? Is that you?"
She was alone on the grounds. Simmons was off for the weekend. No one could bypass the electronic motion detectors, she'd been assured…so …no…it must have been her imagination….
She slipped, and was about to fall into a murky puddle when she felt herself lifted up and caught a glimpse of what she thought was a pink sleeve .
But no one was there…all this talk of ghosts…her imagination was really playing tricks on her…
"That's no way to play music."
"Huh?" Riley asked, interrupted from his strumming. "Who's there? C'mon, will ya, Ski? Pat? You know Mr. Morton set up this room so I could practice without you teasing me… Ski?" Riley looked out the door of the soundproofed 'storage/made to music room'.
No one was nearby.
Shaking his head about another taunting comment about his surfer music, Riley sat back down and began to play again.
"You could take lessons from my son."
"That's it," Riley lunged toward the door, where he was sure somebody was just behind, hiding.
But there was nothing….
"You're certain?" Crane asked him.
"Yes sir. There was nobody there, in or out of the storeroom, and I checked with Ski and Pat and…"
"Did it have an English accent?"
"No sir. American. Definitely American."
"Lord Nelson told me we might have other visitations…okay, thank you Riley, if it happens again, just ask it what it wants, even if it's to thin air, and pick up the mike to tell us where it is."
"Uh, skipper…these ghosts…they're not…well…"
"Lord Nelson only wants to help…so let's give this one the benefit of the doubt too."
"Aye sir, but, like…this is really way out."
"That, Riley, is an understatement if ever there was one!" Crane grinned and dismissed the crewman.
Tony Nelson was bored. While he enjoyed listening to the great Harriman's non-classified exploits, they soon developed into a comparison of notes between the admiral and Mike. They were really enjoying themselves talking diving, coral species, whales, fish and all sorts of undersea stuff. Tony would much rather talk about the flying sub, no, he'd really rather fly the thing.
'Poof!' He was!
"Jeanie!!! What am I doing here!" he held on to the flying sub's controls for his life.
"You wanted to fly it."
"I don't know how!"
"Oh," she replied, then grinned, "very well." Jeanie blinked and suddenly he knew exactly what to do, at least to keep them from making a crash landing into the depths below.
"Mr. Morton!" Sparks relayed urgently. "They flying sub's tracer is on! It's…its…about 200 miles south of us, at 35,000 feet!"
"That's impossible!!! She's still in the berth! Get a fix on it, it's a bogey!"
"She's not in the berth, sir, " Sharkey approached the XO, concern on his face. He'd raced to the little berthing area under the observation nose when he'd heard Sparks. He was certain, nobody but nobody could have snuck it out without somebody noticing!" What do we do?"
"Sparks, do a diagnostic on her internal components. The red-loop microchip. No bogey would have that, Nelson made that one himself, there are no others…O'Brian, tally all hands. Either somebody took her out for a spin without bothering to ask, or we had a stowaway aboard…." Morton picked up the mike. " Lee…we have a problem."
Edith pouted. " Are you sure you don't know where he went?"
"I'm sorry, dear, none of us noticed," Harriet replied, " I was busy researching your family archives, and those two kept yacking about celephalopods or some such nonsense. I'm sure Tony's just forgotten about the time…"
"But the photographer is here now…we'll have to reschedule and…"
"Edie," Harriman took her in tow. "It's not the end of the world you know."
"Are ye sure?" Shamus winked at Harriman from the rocking chair.
"Where's that draft coming from? It's rocking grandma's chair?" Edie asked suddenly.
"Maybe it's a ghost, " Harriet mentioned politely, as he watched Shamus rock back and forth, his legs stretched out.
"It's a big house, I remember sudden gushes of air, and it's simply a breeze in some far off window or fireplace or something, "Nelson lied.
"Yes, I know all that, Harry, but it's…spooky."
"Seaview to FS-1, Seaview to the flying sub, this is Captain Crane. Answer please," Crane ordered through the radio patch. "Punch the green button just below the altimeter for two way transmission."
There was some static, a few clicks, but nothing else. "Look, we're tracking you. You won't get away with it. If you come clean, I'll make sure the admiral uses as much leniency as possible…I'd rather not fire a missile at you, but I will if I have to…"
"Uh, flying sub to Seaview," Tony's voice came through, "uh, sorry about the uh, mix up…there's been a little problem…look, captain, just close your eyes and everything will be back to normal…"
"Who is this!!!?" Crane shouted, angry.
"One, Two, Three," Tony counted.
"Skipper! It's back!" Sparks called out. "In her berth!"
"Lord Nelson, if this is your idea of a joke…" Lee exclaimed to thin air, exasperated.
"Nay lad, 'tisn't me!" Lord Nelson examined the periscope island, making it rise up and down, and turn with the handles.
"Stop that!" Crane shouted toward him. Seen only to himself, his shouting to the spectre was not helping his men cope.
"Chip! I want an armed detail to board the flying sub. Take the culprit to the brig!"
"Well, that won't do any good, captain, " a new disembodied voice spoke calmly.
"That's it skipper! That's the voice I heard, " Riley exclaimed.
"Can you see him?"
"No, no I can't."
"Can anyone see it? Did anyone else hear it?" Crane asked of his control room crew.
Negative responses followed.
"Now look," Lee spoke to the invisible, " I'd appreciate it if you'd appear to somebody!"
"Skipper," the master at arms interrupted from the flying sub, " it's empty!"
"We checked and checked. There's nobody aboard!"
"Of course not," the voice suddenly had a body to go with it.
"Who are you?" Crane demanded.
"My name's Ozzie. No, nobody else can see me. I was only allowed one person to see me. I hadn't realized someone else might possibly hear me. I'm here to help make sure you meet Admiral Nelson before the deadline."
"Uh huh, and the flying sub?"
"Oh, I had nothing to do with that…"
"You didn't." It was a sarcastic question.
"No, I assure you…"
"And why are you stuck on earth?"
"Stuck?? Oh, you have the wrong idea entirely. I asked to be sent here. I'm not a ghost at all. I'm from the other side…they let me come to help you. Encourage you when you…"
"When I what??" Lee was mad. And getting madder every minute. This Horatio and Ozzie were supposed to help him but they wouldn't tell him how or why!
"He can't tell you, lad, I told you…" Lord Nelson interrupted, jumping down from the periscope island and sauntering over to Ozzie.
"I know what you told me, and I've had enough!! Now, either you tell me exactly what this mystery is all about or I'll abort this so called 'rescue' attempt and..."he stopped as he saw their faces, horror stricken. " Will both of you swear…that this is legit, and not some hocus pocus some trickster like Krueger is playing on us??"
"I swear!" Lord Nelson placed his hand over his heart, or where it would have been, if he was alive.
"So do I!" Ozzie did so too, " What is this Krueger everyone is afraid of?"
"Never mind," Lee leaned against the plot table, weary. "Chip, remind me to ask the admiral to install video cameras inside the flying sub, the bell, every room on the boat!…well, maybe not all the compartments…but I sure would like to know what the hell happened."
"They, uh, don't know?" Chip looked around.
"Well, if they do, they're not telling…Chip, I feel like I'm loosing my mind…but they're here. Right over there, trading picture postcards in front of the windows…how long till we reach Boston Harbor?"
"49 hours, 37 if we keep pushing her…"
"I know its within the deadline by a couple of hours, but, keep pushing. Give her a rest every two hours at three quarters, then flank again after one…I don't know why I think this important…but I'd like to be there as long before the deadline as possible.
"Where the blazes have you been?" Nelson offered Tony a stiff drink. " Edith was boiling mad…and let me tell you, there is no stronger power on earth than an upset female!"
"Now, Harriman," Harriet intervened, " you don't really mean that, and let's give the boy a chance to explain…I'm sure it wasn't intentional."
"I…" Tony decided it was best not to explain, " I lost track of time. I'm terribly sorry."
"There, you see, " Harriet patted Tony's arm as he sat down on the ancient sofa," a perfectly simple explanation…."
"I thought maybe he got hijacked by a ghost or something," Mike said, in a false jest. " Actually, I wanted to ask all of you…have any of you seen or heard anything…unusual?"
"Why do you ask?" Harriman replied, concerned. Damn, is Shamus meddling with them too?"
"Well, uh…okay, I'll come clean…I've been on medication for sometime now. It has side effects…dreams, hallucinations…but this time…it was so real…I …thought Shamus Nelson was taunting me, he and this weird girl. She said she was a genie…please don't laugh, I'm ready to admit myself to a Sanatorium; she was nice, he wasn't. End of story. Either I was hallucinating, or…."
"Or the place is haunted!" Harriet mused.
"Well, " Edith entered the room, " oh, you're back Tony. Good. The photographer has been rescheduled."
"I'm terribly sorry…"
"No need to apologize…" she fibbed.
"Edith, dear," Harriet said excitedly, " we've been talking…we think the house is haunted! Mike's had a visitation! Two actually! Now sit down, and listen to this…"
"Well, boy," Lord Nelson waved Crane over to the observation nose, " we're almost there…hopefully before the deadline; this contraption, what was it you called it?"
"Submarine," Crane replied, erasing a mistake he'd made on the plotting board.
"Lee," Chip nudged him, " why don't you get some rest…what are they doing now?"
"His lordship" Lee replied sarcastically, " is sitting with his feet up on the table, and I have no idea where the other one went," he said wearily.
"This," Lord Nelson spoke loudly, " submarine makes good time! Now, over here, look at this…."
"Lord Nelson, unless it's vital to our mission, I do have duties to attend to."
"Ach, I know all about your duties lad, the other one can handle it."
"Now, look! Commander Morton has better things to do than to than to baby-sit the boat while I'm at your beck and call…."
"I don't like the tone of your voice, lad!"
"And I don't like being summoned as if I were superfluous equipment!"
"Ahh, now that's more like it," Lord Nelson grinned, "Using your Command voice! Befits a Captain…now, this is important. Over here. See this?" he held up a scrawled drawing he'd made.
Tossing his pencil down, Crane approached him and took the paper, "Looks like a kid's drawing…"
"Hummph! What do expect from a one armed man blind in one eye??"
"Sorry…uh, why do you still have these afflictions? I would have thought…"
"Well, let's not get into details…now look. This is the backside of the old Nelson house. And this here is the necessary…right next to the tunnel, marked by a pile of stones."
"Tunnel? Don't tell me, buried pirate treasure."
"Lad, you're becoming irritating in your mocking of my help…why, if I were in command I'd lock you in the brig for less, how Harriman puts up with it is beyond my comprehension."
"You'll forgive me, sir, but look at it from my point of view, and…"
"Enough lad, enough…enough said….now, this is how you can get into the nether quarters without being seen…"
"Why? Why not just knock on the door?"
"I can't tell you."
"Oh, that's just dandy."
"Captain, this is serious! Do you want to protect Harriman or not?"
"Of course I do! I just wish you'd tell me the how, what, and why of all this!"
"I'm not allowed."
"Oh, I see, we're supposed to save the Admiral, but you won't tell us how, or any other damn bit of information we need to do so!"
"You'll know all you need to know at the proper moment…it's the best we can do…we'd like to tell you, but…it's not allowed…too dangerous."
Lee sighed and sat down, frustrated. Chip approached.
"What's this all about Lee? A tunnel?"
"A tunnel. His lordship here won't confide any more in me…we're supposed to sneak into the house from it!"
"Good grief…look, Lee, you're frazzled. I doubt if you've gotten any sleep since this whole thing started, why not take a break…"
"Well, have you gotten any rest?"
"We're all in this together…here, this," he wafted the piece of paper about, " is apparently our battle plan."
"Harry, why ever not?" Edith asked in the privacy of his bedroom.
"You want us to hold a séance ?? That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in ages! Now I know these old mansions have a few old cobwebs, and creaky stairs, but this is utter nonsense! What on earth could have possessed you to even suggest such a thing!"
"Because strange things have been going on, and you of all people should keep an open mind!"
"I hardly call a man's delusions proof of the place being haunted!" Nelson seriously wanted to stop things before they got out of hand. Shamus was enough trouble without summoning him, for Pete's sake!
"Well, I almost fell and broke my backside, but…"
"I know, I know, you saw a pink sleeve and were pulled up…sheer adrenaline rush, and imagination, that's all."
"Before Mike told us about the genie in pink? Harry, we're holding a séance, and I don't need your permission. I have joint ownership of the place, remember…you can go examine muddy ponds for microorganisms for all I care!" she huffed off.
"Ahh, splendid brass of the wench!" Shamus sniggered, " she'll make a fine hand at the helm, so she will!"
"You keep your hands off her!!"
"So you've said Laddie, so you've said…however, I have a little proposition for ye…this here, séance…it could summon up others you know…others not quite so lenient as I've been with ye…take me hand in agreement to take my place , and I'll make sure no harm comes to the girl. Is it a deal?"
"No! You already said you could do no real harm, so why don't you just slither away someplace and leave me alone!"
"Aye, I said I could do no harm. Think about it."
"The harbor master's a little confused Lee, there's not exactly a sub pen in Boston harbor."
"We'll take one of the tanker's spots…if it's a matter of money, tell him, the price is no object. We're running out of time."
"Would you put on price tag on the Admiral's life?"
"Hell no! Of course, you're right…at least I…Lee, if you are delusional, I'll try to visit you at least once a year, when you're not in a straight jacket," he winked.
"You'll need this," Ozzie appeared.
"Where have you been?" Lord Nelson asked.
"What is this?" Crane took the small slip of paper from Ozzie.
"The combination to the family vault."
"I knew I shouldn't have asked."
"Admiral? May I speak to you, sir?" Tony approached Harriman, who was sipping an ice cold beer in the vast antiquated kitchen.
"Well? And I thought I told you to call me Harriman."
"Not when I have to tell you something like this."
"Alright, spit it out."
"There really is a genie…I didn't just see her like Mike did…she's mine, actually…."
"You believe me??"
"I'm open to…possibilities."
"Well, I found an antique bottle on the beach, where I'd crash landed after a mission, and well, the rest is history…her name is Jeanie, and ..she does things…in fact, sir, I…have to tell you that…I was thinking about how much I'd like to fly in your flying sub, and…the next thing I knew there I was at the controls…I'm afraid I really didn't explain things to your Captain…he sounded ready to really fire those missiles at me…that's where I really was sir, honest…and then she zapped me back here…I don't know what happened to your flying sub. She said she put it back. I just wanted you to know that Mike's not crazy…and…"
"That Shamus is real."
"Oh, I know Shamus is real…he's been after me for some time now…it's a long story…and I think it's about time I shared it with someone before Edith's little séance where things can get out of hand…."
"I only asked for a few volunteers, Chief," Lee slapped a pistol on his gun belt hidden by an oversized sweatshirt.
"Well, there ain't exactly anything else for us to do, skipper…besides, you might need backup…"
"Very well chief, now men, listen up. We can't scare the good citizens of Boston with a commando raid on one of their old mansions, so we have to pretend to be sightseers..it'll be dark soon, so stick together…O'Brian, you have the conn. Chip, you ready?"
"As I'll ever be, uh, are the…visitors coming along?"
"I have no idea…the last I saw of them, they were looking at Kowalski's girlie magazine..lets go."
Harriman emerged from one of the sitting rooms, poured himself a stiff drink and said, " I've decided to join you."
"Thank you Harry, " Edith glowed with pride in her sometimes difficult brother. This showed he wasn't as stubborn as usual. "May I introduce you to Madam Sarah..."
"There it is Lee, over there, number 177, look at the place. Looks like something out of a Victorian novel…"
"I'd hate to be the fumigator," Riley piped up, looking at the ancient mansion and the grounds, awash with piles of weeds and debris waiting for burning or disposal.
"Thanks, Chip. " Some security, Lee thought. He'd have to have a talk with Nelson about the lack of it, even though he'd almost tripped the alarm…it was Chip's idea to toss a handful of dirt into the air, to show the multi lazer beams and their points of origin. He's been watching James Bond movies again, Lee grinned to himself, grateful for Morton's quickly produced mirror to reflect the beams back on themselves to short themselves out.
The hike was longer than they'd planned on. Dense weeds covered the area the gardener had apparently not seen to yet. There was no outhouse, so dead reckoning was required to locate the approximate area it had been.
"Any sign of the stones marking the tunnel yet?" Crane asked.
"No skipper, nothing….if they're still there…" Kowalski kept a sharp eye out.
"Well, according to the map it should be around here someplace and then we…" Crane twisted his ankle and fell to the ground, hidden by the heavy growth.
"You okay, Lee?"
"Just twisted my ankle on that piece of debris …wait a minute…it's a trapdoor pull-ring!" he dug and tore some of the debris away to expose it, " This is it!"
It was difficult for Harriman not to laugh. Madam Sarah groaned on and on, but no otherworld visitors made an appearance. She tempted, she urged, she pleaded….
"Maybe they've gone home for the century…look, I realize you've gone to a great deal of time and trouble but…"
"Boo!" Shamus popped into view by the fireplace.
He was rewarded with gasps of wonder by the family circle, and wariness by Harriman.
"It sure is creepy in here, skipper, " Riley noted as they made their way through the damp tunnel. Lit by their flashlights, the men saw rusted metal file cabinets, stacked glass jugs of bottled water, and crates of canned and dehydrated foods. Even more supplies were stashed closer to the house, as the dirt walls merged into concrete walls. Off to one side was a heavy metal door with a huge round lock. It said Brisker & Brisker 1848.
"Must be the family vault the Ozzie ghost gave you the combination to…" Morton said.
"What is all this stuff for anyway?" Kowalski asked.
"Hmmm. Probably a bomb shelter, " Morton answered as Lee took the crumpled piece of paper from his pocket…"stand back, we have no idea what's in there."
Crane set the lock to the correct numbers and turned the wheel. "Give me a hand, this weighs a ton."
The men helped pull the massive 30 inch thick door open.
"Stop it! Stop it!" Mike, Tony, and Harriman tired to pull the floating chair down from the air. "Hang on Harriet, we'll save you!" Tony called out, " Jeanie! Jeanie! Do something!"
"I'm sorry master," Jeanie appeared in a poof of smoke. " I am powerless against such things."
"Ahhh, lovely wench, " Shamus leered, " I believe we've met afore!"
"You big bully! Put her down!" Jeanie glared.
"I was only having a bit of fun with the family," Shamus pointed a finger and the chair gently lowered.
"Harriet, are you alright?" Harrmian was the first to check for any sign of injury or distress.
"What a ride!" she laughed.
"All right, Shamus," Harriman spoke cooly, " you've had your fun, now…go away."
"I can't. I was summoned so I was."
"Then you can just consider yourself unsummoned! Well, why are you still here!" Harriman demanded.
"Laddie, laddie, you know why…I'll not leave till I have what I came for!"
"Harry what's going on? You've met Shamus before?" Edith asked.
"Yes, and I'd rather forget the acquaintance."
"This is fascinating," Madam Sarah intervened, " now Captain Nelson, why don't you sit down and we can discuss the situation."
"The time for discussion is over!" he snapped his fingers and Edith found herself in a blue velvet crinoline gown. "Dearie, say goodbye to yon kinfolk."
"It won't work, Shamus," Nelson faced his tormentor, " she has to agree to take your place willingly. Don't worry Edith, he can't harm you. He just wants to use you to get me to agree to take his place."
"I don't understand, Harry, take his place? "
"I'd wanted to spare you, but…he's a fraud…Shamus is doomed to wander alone the seas he disgraced….as a slaver."
"A slave trader???" Edith asked in horror.
"Aye, lass," Shamus paced," I took me money where I found it…your money it is too ye know."
"Nay lass, a businessman. Now afore ye go all holier than thou, remember all yer charities and galas, and fancy finery 'as all been paid for by me money! Me money I earned catchin' and sellin' the heathen folk from far away to this fine land."
"Oh, oh, the shame of it!!" she cried out.
"Yes," Harriman wrapped his arms around Edith, " the shame of it, and that's why he's after one of us to take his place til judgement day. You've failed, Shamus. Now, go away, and don't come back."
"Ah, lad, you think you can just snap your fingers and get rid of me that simply?" Shamus sat in an cracked leather chair. "I might just think of settin' up houskeepin' here. It's been awhile since I had any decent shore leave. I'll get you in the end to take me place, you'll see. Ahh the luxury of sittin' by the fireplace. "
"Harry!!" Mike called out.
A coral snake was slithering out of the fireplace.
"Everyone stay calm!" Harriman commanded, " move back, slowly…it won't bite unless provoked."
"That's easily arranged, " Shamus scooped the snake up on his boot, took it in his hand and was suddenly face to face with Edith. "Powerful poison. Powerful…one tweek on my reptilian partner here, and yon lass is off to meet her Maker…what now Harriman? What is yer sweet sister's life worth?"
"Don't do it Harry," Edith said pleadingly." I'll go with you Shamus. Of my own free will."
"No!" Harriman lurched forward, knocking her backwards to the floor, " very well, Shamus, I'll go with you." The snake slithered away behind an ottoman.
"Then it's a deal," Shamus extended his hand.
"Harry, no!" Edith pleaded.
"I just have to make a little arrangement," Harriman meandered over to the ottoman, and bent down, grabbing the snake, forcing it to bite him.
"What are you doing!!" Shamus exclaimed, angry. "We made a pact!"
"I lied!" he tossed the snake into the alcove.
"You're no good to me dead!!!" Shamus raged.
"So sue me!"
"Harry!" Edith rushed to Harriman's side.
"You're…more to me…than……life…." Harriman collapsed against her shoulder.
"Blast ye all! I'll have no more of ye!" Shamus disappeared.
"Watch out Ski!" Chip's voice boomed as the men entered the room." That's a coral snake," he shot it.
"What happened?" Lee asked in horror, as he hurried over to Nelson. He looked dead.
"It bit him, Lee!" Edith screamed.
"I'll call the EMT's," Chip rushed to the phone.
"Ski!" Crane exclaimed, " the vault! Hurry, the first aid kit, the one that shows Florida on it, there's an antivenum logo on it….let's get a tourniquet on him…."
The clock chimed noon. Lee looked at it, ashen.
Mike looked at his watch, "that old clock's fast…don't worry, it's only been one and a half minutes…good, your man is back…."
"Well, that's the whole story, Lee…I'm just glad you got to me in time…"Nelson said from his hospital bed. " I wonder how Madam Sarah is doing at the the rest home?"
"She'll be okay, just shaken up by the snake thing."
"Thank you Lee."
"Don't thank me…"
"I don't understand."
"It's a long story…."
"Man, that was the best meal I ever ate!" Riley said, heaping another helping of stir fry onto his plate, in the vast dining room, set with the family china, silver, and crystal.
"Thank you Stuart," Edith said, " I send your compliments to China Xpress. Take out is so much more…convenient don’t you think? I gave up trying to cook ages ago!"
"Well," Tony added, " I sure could use a nitecap."
'Poof', Tony was suddenly attired in an old fashioned bedgown and cap.
"Uh, " Harriman used a conspiratorial voice, amid the laughter, " Jeanie, my dear, it might be a good idea not to take Tony's wishes quite so…literally?"
"Oh! Oh, I'm so sorry, " she blinked and Tony was again in his sweater and slacks, sans cap.
"Well, " Lee swallowed some of the family rum, " at least I know about a bogus flying sub!"
"I'd be certainly interested" Mike said, " in taking up Harriman's offer of a tour aboard Seaview Captain! He's told me about all sorts of fascinating experiments and adventures…"
Chip rolled his eyes upward, as Lee groaned inwardly.
"I'd be delighted, Mr. Nelson, " Lee replied graciously.
"No you're not, Lad," Lord Nelson sat in an empty chair at the table.
"What is it Lee, are you ill?" Harriman asked.
"No..uh, ladies, gentlemen… Lord Nelson," Lee indicated the empty chair.
"He's here, now?" Edith asked excited.
"Yes, feather in his tricorner, and polished boots."
Harriman tapped his goblet, " attention everyone, I'd like to say a few words…I think we'd all like to thank Lord Nelson for his help in the recent…difficulties, and I'm sure you'd agree with me, that he's most welcome."
'Hear Hears' and nods of assent followed.
"Nice to be appreciated, at long last…they didn't carry out my last wishes you know…" Lord Nelson mused.
"What's he saying Lee?" Edith asked as she watched Lee's concentration.
"He was never appreciated…what's that sir? Oh, yes, His will was basically ignored…"
"Is that why he haunts?" Harriet asked.
"Oh, no, " Lee turned to her, "he doesn't haunt, not really…he's here…on approval, so to speak, to…what's that sir?"
"My Emma, my love," he was slowly becoming visible to the rest of the gathering, as he rose and paced about, " was put in debtors prison for a time, but if they'd followed my will, she wouldn't have had been in debt! I provided amply for her, but they gave everything to my brother! She died destitute. They didn't care. Not a word, not one word of apology or even so much as a word of recognition of her nor my daughter. Not in all these years…so I ask you good Captain, and of your Nelson friends and my family, to urge Parliament to do so, and let me rest in peace!" he pleaded.
"Admiral," Harriman rose from the table, " you have my sympathies. I doubt if an English parliament will listen to a crusty old American, but you have my word, we'll, all of us, will try."
"I..I thank you," he bowed with a wave of his hat," you too my lad," he said to Crane.
"Will you come along peaceable now, Horatio? No more complaining?" Ozzie asked, invisible to all but Crane, and audible only to Crane and Riley.
"No. No more complaints."
"What is it Lee, the other one?" Harriman asked.
"Yes, he's the one who gave me the combination to the vault. Ozzie."
"Ozzie!!?" Harriet gasped. "Ozzie? Here?"
"Yes…what is it?" Crane asked.
"Oh…" she was near to swooning.
"Ozzie Nelson was her husband," Edith helped Harriet drink a little water.
"Is…is he happy?" Harriet asked.
"Not as much as I will be when you join me…in about 10 years or so…" Ozzie appeared to them all. "I have so much I'd like to tell you, but…I'm not allowed…its time to go Horatio. Harriet, I love you," he said as he vanished along with Horatio.
"Man oh man, that was the weirdest," Riley finally descended into Seaview's control room, tossing a manila envelope onto the plot table, "Nobody's gonna believe it at all…"
"I'm not sure I do, and I was there too!" Morton approached him, " All secure?"
"All secure Mr. Morton."
"Prepare to get underway."
"Lee?" Chip asked, " the Admiral's decided to stay in Boston?"
"For a while…seems he feels the family reunion needs some more time…without any disruptive influences."
"Will Jeanie be there? What a dish…"
'poof' Chip was suddenly holding a dish of guacamole in his hand.
"Wrong kind of dish Jeanie!" Lee called out to thin air, laughing…"oh, by the way, no women or genies allowed aboard without the admiral's permission…go on, have a good time in Honolulu! Your master's orders remember?"
'poof' Jeanie was before them, " but I'd rather be here. Can't you make and exception, captain? I've never been on a submarine before, and master said I could do whatever I wanted on my vacation."
"Well, now, technically I suppose I could," Lee leaned against the periscope island, "except for one minor detail."
"What's that captain?"
"This ain't Honolulu, and don't you go blinking us there either…I can have Tony lock you back in your bottle you know…"
"Oh, very well. Goodbye." 'poof', she was gone.
"Lee are you out of your mind???" Chip asked. " It would have been great to have her aboard!"
"Chip, would you really trust 124 men aboard with all their wishes running around in their brains with her in that little revealing genie outfit trying to grant them? Would you trust yourself?"
"Ah, I see what you mean, they'd be…uh…but Lee, she's not obligated to grant wishes except to Tony."
"Perhaps not," he took Chip's bowl, " but..we're not going to risk it. Let's get underway."
"I heard that Mr. Morton," Lee grinned, and opened the manila envelope. Inside was a photograph, sort of. It had a note:
Some of Edith's little friends put this together as a remembrance for the Nelson Family Reunion .
We all signed it and included names for our 'distant' relations We'd forgotten all about the security cameras!
I've decided to stay for another week or so, and relax in the company of home. It'll be good for me, as Edith is fond of saying. After what we've all been through, I think she may be right!
So, while you sail Seaview back to the interrupted assignment you were on before you got drafted, think of me, my feet up, holding an ice cold whiskey in my hand, in front of a roaring fire, well, not too roaring, it isn't that cold. Jealous? Good!
And, Lee, thank you, for having the courage to believe in the unbelievable, to save my life.